Thursday, February 22, 2024

What is David Menconi reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Menconi, author of Oh, Didn't They Ramble: Rounder Records and the Transformation of American Roots Music.

The entry begins:
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

In many ways, Yellowface is a crime novel – and the crime in question is perfect, at least at first. But this story of stolen literary glory eventually mutates into a fascinatingly twisted portrait of a mind unraveling. It stars a first-person anti-hero whose justifications, rationalizations and outright fabrications bring on madness even as she tops the best-seller lists. After she is inevitably found out, she spirals further downward, her grasp of reality broken. But by the end, she’s still plotting one last comeback. Throw in some darkly funny dish about the publishing industry’s uneasy relationship with racism, and...[read on]
About Oh, Didn't They Ramble, from the publisher:
What is American roots music? Any definition must account for a kaleidoscope of genres from bluegrass to blues, western swing to jazz, soul and gospel to rock and reggae, Cajun to Celtic. It must encompass the work of artists as diverse as Alice Gerard and Alison Kraus, George Thorogood and Sun Ra, Bela Fleck and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the Blake Babies and Billy Strings. What do all these artists and music styles have in common? The answer is a record label born in the wake of the American folk revival and 1960s movement politics, formed around the eclectic tastes and audacious ideals of three recent college grads who lived, listened, and worked together. The answer is Rounder Records.

For more than fifty years, Rounder has been the world's leading label for folk music of all kinds. David Menconi's book is the label's definitive history, drawing on previously untapped archives and extensive interviews with artists, Rounder staff, and founders Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton Levy, and Bill Nowlin. Rounder's founders blended ingenuity and independence with serendipity and an unfailing belief in the small-d democratic power of music to connect and inspire people, forging creative partnerships that resulted in one of the most eclectic and creative catalogs in the history of recorded music. Placing Rounder in the company of similarly influential labels like Stax, Motown, and Blue Note, this story is destined to delight anyone who cares about the place of music in American culture.
Visit David Menconi’s blog.

The Page 99 Test: Ryan Adams: Losering.

My Book, The Movie: Ryan Adams: Losering.

The Page 99 Test: Step It Up and Go.

The Page 99 Test: Oh, Didn't They Ramble.

My Book, The Movie: Oh, Didn't They Ramble.

Writers Read: David Menconi.

--Marshal Zeringue